The talent, the gossip, the inside track
Celso de Campos Jr
It’s been a week since Luiz Felipe Scolari gave his first press conference as Chelsea’s head coach. By now, the Brazilian gaffer should have already deciphered all of the Stamford Bridge club’s mysteries. In his own words, seven days was enough for him to “know everything” about Chelsea.But the Blues will surely take a little longer, if they ever will, to crack the coach formerly known as Big Phil. Make no mistake: the kind, patient, entertaining, smiley fella that showed up at the press conference won’t stay around for long.
As soon as the day-to-day work begins, the moody, emotional, picky, real Scolari will pop up. And then he’ll really be getting down to business. The Brazilian sergeant made his name not by pleasing people, much to the contrary. Throughout his career, he has been systematically challenging and upsetting those who have stood against him; and some of his major accomplishments came after he, following his guts, swam against the tide.A quick trip down memory lane shows that, in 2002, the whole of Brazil wanted high-flying Romário in the national team for the World Cup. Even Scolari’s boss, the president of the Brazilian Football Confederation, was openly campaigning for Shorty. The gaffer chose to bet on a recovering Ronaldo, and the rest was history.
A year later, when Scolari took over as Portugal coach, one of his first missions was to naturalise the Brazilian midfielder Deco, who was starring at Porto. Many proud Portuguese, Figo included, roared. It was useless. Deco was called up to the national team and scored the winner on his debut in a friendly against Brazil. No one's complained ever since.
Ronaldo fires Brazil to World Cup glory
But now back to club matters. He’s going to deal with a handful of different tasks and report to many people, most notably, of course, Roman Abramovich. The mundane world of arrivals and departures, which in his national teams wasn’t an issue, will now require a lot of his time and will surely provoke many disputes within Stamford Bridge.The first is already on. Caught in the middle of the fight between Frank Lampard and the club, Scolari misfired, assuring the player would stay, while it seems the owner wants to get rid of the midfielder. Since the Brazilian is just starting his term, it probably won’t undermine the relationship. However, Abramovich should be aware that he should handle his new coach with care. I’ve been reading many English journalists writing that Scolari will have to learn to deal with the Russian billionaire. For me, it’s the other way around. Abramovich’s truckload of money lured Scolari to London, but I’m sure it won’t be enough to keep him if the Brazilian can’t do things the way he wants. If Roman wants his Chelsea to go the extra mile, Scolari needs to stay.
Deco takes on his fellow countrymen
During their morning walks in Cascais, Portugal, my wife’s grandparents more than once came across Scolari tanning and relaxing at the beaches of the beautiful city, where the gaffer also lived during his Portuguese days. It’s heaven on Earth, a place that makes him “smile on the inside,” as he once said. (Needless to say that he also cashed in big while coaching the Seleccionado.)Leading Chelsea to Champions League glory is a challenge he will fully embrace, provided he’s free to work. After all, Scolari will always be faithful to his “my way or the highway” policy. Even if he’s the one who takes the highway out of greyish London. No problem at all.Sunny Cascais is right there on the corner, always waiting for him.
If not properly treated Scolari could walk out? I'm sure Abramovich would think, bothered! A dozen (if not many more) managers could do his job, but owners as munificent as Abramovich, there exists only one. And if he walked Scolari would lose his money, a main motivation for taking the job as he's admitted.
Brazilian coaches haven't suceeded at the top in Europe which I'm sure will motivate him, but the Portuguese are pretty scathing about Scolari's tactics and methods (as was Mourinho) and if someone as clever and proud as Jose found himself outmanouvered by the Russian, what of the rather more traditional Brazilian?
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